ROUND 3 PREVIEW
Wollongong Rollerhawks v Kilsyth Cobras- Friday 4th May @7pm
Wollongong Rollerhawks v Kilsyth Cobras- Saturday 5th May @5pm
Wollongong Rollerhawks v Kilsyth Cobras- Sunday 6th May @11am
A battle of two of the top teams will give further insight to who is the Championship favourite in 2018 with the undefeated Rollerhawks hosting the third-placed Cobras.
Kilsyth sit equal with second-placed Queensland on points but have the chance to move above them if they can achieve success against Wollongong, something that no team has been to do so far this season.
Josh Allison has been named for the visitors and the 2016 Paralympian will provide a significant boost to the team after he averaged 6.6 points and four rebounds per game last year. They will need Tristan Knowles (averaging 31.1 points per game) to be at his best offensively to match the output of Wollongong’s top scorers as well as Shaun Groenewegen and Michael D’Amelio who are combining for just under 20 points per game.
Jontee Brown is another key piece of the puzzle for Kilsyth and he is coming off a spectacular weekend at the Kevin Coombs Cup where he recorded 18 points, 17 rebounds and seven assists to win gold for Victoria.
Cobras team mate Brian Carminati was also integral with 18 points, eight boards and four steals and those performances could instil a newfound confidence as they get set to take on the ladder leaders.
While Allison could be an important in for Kilsyth, Wollongong look like they could have Michael Auprince back this weekend to shore up their front court.
Last year’s leading rebounder and one of only four players to average a double-double, Auprince recorded 18.8 points and 12.1 boards per game in 2017.
His inclusion is a scary proposition for the rest of the league as the Rollerhawks have already claimed seven straight wins this season on the back of Brett Stibners and Shawn Russell who have each scored over 25 points per game as well as Nick Taylor and Luke Pople who sit fourth and fifth in the competition for average assists.
At home as well for the first time in almost a month, Wollongong will be a difficult prospect to face this weekend for the Cobras.
Perth Wheelcats v Queensland Spinning Bullets- Saturday 5th May @7pm
Perth Wheelcats v Queensland Spinning Bullets- Sunday 6th May @10am
While first takes on third this weekend, fourth-placed Perth will also host second-placed Queensland in another battle that will further shape the current final positions.
The Wheelcats have a three-game lead over Adelaide currently and a successful round could see them gain some serious separation for the top four as the regular season will be at the halfway point come the end of this weekend.
After dropping their first three games on the year, Perth look to have righted the ship with a four-game winning streak but they need to prove themselves against a fellow top-four team if they are to prove themselves.
Shaun Norris is the reigning Player of the Week and has taken his season average to a triple-double once again as he continues to dominate the competition with 29.6 points, 10.4 rebounds and 10.3 assists per game.
Andrew Dewberry (12 points, 16 assists) and Benjamin Moncrieff (22 points, 13 rebounds) are coming off massive performances in the final of the Kevin Coombs Cup to lead Western Australia to a silver medal while Thomas McHugh also impressed with 22 points, nine rebounds and four steals.
If they can continue to step up by creating more avenues to the basket and taking some of the pressure off Norris, the Wheelcats will be a stronger team in the back half of the year.
The Spinning Bullets only have one player scoring in double-digits with Tom O’Neill-Thorne pacing them with 22.7 points but they have six members tallying over seven points per game and five of those players are also recording over two assists.
That ability to share the ball and attack oppositions from all areas of the court has been a major part of their success this season but they must keep winning to keep their hopes of a top-two finish alive as consecutive losses this weekend could drop them to fourth on the ladder quickly.
Sydney Metro Blues v Adelaide Thunder- Saturday 5th May @3pm
Sydney Metro Blues v Adelaide Thunder- Sunday 6th May @10am
The third clash for Round 3 provides a real opportunity for one of these teams to gain some momentum on the season and stay in touch with the top four.
If a team drops two games this weekend, it will be a long road back but the Blues proved last year that with the right personnel, even a late charge can cement a place on the podium.
CJ McCarthy-Grogan could be back for Sydney Metro this weekend and if he does hit the floor, he will be able to transform the team after he compiled 20.6 points, 7.1 rebounds and 4.9 assists per game last year as the club’s on-court leader.
NSW did not have much to smile about at the Kevin Coombs Cup, falling in the bronze medal game but Georgia Munro-Cook starred as she finished fifth in the competition for rebounds, third for assists and fifth for steals.
The Adelaide Thunder also had strong representation at the tournament with Luke McDowall showing off his offensive talents while Will Crooks had a near triple-double in their clash with NSW which sets him up for a strong weekend in Round 3.
Adelaide’s leading scorer Luke Watkins is not available though which opens the door for the Blues and while Adam Roocke will still be a concern for the hosts, the teams can expect a defensive battle this weekend.